PepsiCo to introduce Australian deli potato chips to US consumers

PepsiCo to introduce Red Rock Deli potato chips to the USPepsiCo is set to bring the Australian potato chip brand Red Rock Deli to the US for the first time. The US Red Rock Deli brand will join PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, and the brand’s initial product range will include three flavours of potato chips: Red Curry and Coconut, Himalayan Pink Salt and Lime and Cracked Pepper. Made with rough-cut potatoes and cooked in sunflower oil, the snacks contain no artificial colours or flavours and are non-GMO project verified. Stuart Beck, senior marketing director for Frito-Lay North America, said: “Red Rock Deli is a brand that is rooted in a philosophy of unique and elevated flavour experiences. “We saw an opportunity to bring this distinctly different snacking experience to the cities here in the U.S. that are always hungry for new culinary trends and elevated snacks.” More

Mapping a new frontier: Potatoes and precision agriculture

Related imagePotatoes may, in many ways, be the perfect candidate for precision agriculture. They’re a high-volume, high-value and high-input crop and the industry has already invested more than other sectors in soil and drainage mapping, variable rate technology and management zones, according to one agronomist who works closely with potato growers. Trevor Thornton’s Crop Care Consulting in Canada says all these factors, and the way quality trumps quantity when it comes to crop value, all add up to a convincing case for adopting precision agriculture. Most of his clients are already using variable rate application for nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and magnesium as well as lime, an input tailor-made for the low-pH-loving potato plant. Bernie Zebarth, of AAFC’s Fredericton Research and Development Centre notes that drone images can be used to monitor growth, disease, insect damage and drought. More

CropLife Canada: Consumer confidence towards biotech improving, but fear of pesticides still out there

Image result for biotechnology canadaConsumer confidence in government regulations around biotechnology is improving, according to CropLife Canada polling in the country. “We’re finding the attitudes of Canadians about biotechnology is really getting better,” says Dennis Prouse, vice president, government affairs, CropLife Canada. “Our actual research finds that Canadian attitudes have taken a good jump forward, and I think that’s largely due to the unblemished safety record biotech has.” The same question surrounding “pesticides” and “pest control products,” however, saw different results. “[Pest control products haven’t] shown the big jump that biotech has — obviously, the fear of chemicals is out there…it’s going to be a tougher hill to climb.” says Prouse. Prouse says the measurement of media showing negative stories on these subjects has dropped though. More

Research indicates serious impacts of climate change on future PCN infestations in Britain

Related imageA risk assessment of the threat of PCN species under future climates is essential to guide adaptation strategies, according to scientists who published the results of their research in the journal Plant Pathology. Data defining the spatial coverage of potato crops in Great Britain were combined with probabilistic climate change data and a newly developed PCN life cycle model to project the future risk to potato crops from PCN in Great Britain. It was found that projected increases in soil temperature could result in increased survival to female maturity for three prominent PCN populations (Globodera pallida, G. rostochiensis, and G. pallida), with greater increases expected for Scotland, followed by Wales then England.  Continue reading

EU member states support near-total neonicotinoids ban

beesMember states have voted in favour of an almost complete ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU. Scientific studies have long linked their use to the decline of honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators. The move represents a major extension of existing restrictions, in place since 2013. Manufacturers and some farming groups have opposed the move, saying the science remains uncertain. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, but concerns about their impact on bees have been reinforced by multiple research efforts, including so-called “real world” trial results published last year.  Continue reading

British potato stocks high, but marketing season may extend

The stocks of potatoes held by growers at the end of March totalled 1.3Mt according to an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board estimate. This is a similar level to the same period in 2015 and approximately 300Kt more than the 2017 estimate. It comes as no surprise following the high production figures of 6.04Mt seen in 2017. Amber Cottingham, analyst at AHDB Potatoes, said: “So far this season, around 4.7 million tonnes has been either sold off the field or moved out of grower held stores since harvest. This is the highest level of movement recorded throughout this period since the 2011/12 season. “At this time of year, growers will be weighing up the cost of storage versus possible improved returns later in the season. Movement of stock accelerated in the period from March to January, which suggests many growers have either decided to sell or disposed of potatoes due to quality issues.”  Continue reading

Advanced ICT technology applied at potato farms in South Korea

It is expected that potato farmers in South Korea will see their income and productivity improving through the application of advanced Information and Communications (ICT) solutions, establishing “smart” farms. SK Telecom, Orion and SMARF signed a business agreement at the Orion potato contract farm in Gyeongbuk province on April 25th to provide ‘intelligent irrigation and water management solutions to potato farms that have been unable to apply smart farm technology. The intelligent irrigation and water management solution is a smart farm technology developed by SK Telecom. Utilizing the Information of Things (IoT) platform, it analyzes real-time information such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation, necessary for growing crops, and automatically calculates the required water and nutrients. In addition, by allowing remote control with the use of mobile devices, workers’ jobs should become considerably easier. More

UK: Guidance on reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations

Image result for late blight ahdbIn July 2017, AHDB in the UK notified its blight network about reports of the spread of EU_37_A2, a strain of blight first discovered in the Netherlands in 2013 which has shown reduced sensitivity to Fluazinam, a common fungicide used to tackle blight and other diseases. As a result, you can find the two below links to guidelines on how the potato industry should respond to reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations, which derives from research funded by the AHDB and carried about by SRUC and ADAS. For a full report please use the following – Guidance on how the potato industry should respond to reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations​. For a summary of the report please use the following – Guidance on reduced fluazinam sensitivity in late blight populations: summary

Bayer launches digital farming solution for field crops

Image result for bayer potatoBayer has launched its xarvio Field Manager in five countries – Germany, France, Austria, Poland, and Ukraine. The new digital solution is for now available in field crops such as potato, wheat, barley, sugar beet and oilseed rape. Further expansion to other crops and countries is expected in the coming months. Field Manager will support European farmers in growing healthy crops by providing recommendations about the right dosage, timing and place of crop protection applicaton. With its digital solutions, Bayer is paving the way for a new agriculture revolution that makes farming more precise, efficient and sustainable. “xarvio Field Manager will enable farmers to be more pro-active in managing their crops and be a step ahead of pests and diseases,” says Andree-Georg Girg, Head of Commercial Operations Digital Farming at Bayer.  Continue reading

New storage service launched for British potato growers

Related imageAHDB’s Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research has announced the launch of a new potato storage service called VarietyCheck for the forthcoming season. According to AHDB, new regulations on acrylamide and fewer sprout suppressants it is more important than ever to get the right storage conditions for your variety of choice. The new service will be tailored to crop variety and dormancy, as well as end use. The VarietyCheck service will objectively assess grower’s new varieties or potato stocks under defined and accurately controlled storage conditions with processing or fresh pack storage options. For processing crops, selecting a variety with long dormancy and an ability to store at lower temperature without sweetening helps your customers overcome these challenges. Similarly, for fresh pack varieties, maintaining appearance and avoiding black heart are high on markets’ wish-lists.  Please contact Adrian Briddon on 01406 359412 to discuss your VarietyCheck requirements.

New report: Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy potato snacks

Related imageSnacking is central to the strategy of food companies, with explosive growth in the number of new such products launched between 2010 and 2017: 125% in Europe and 47% in North America. According to a new report from New Nutrition Business, Strategies in Healthy Snacking, this also means that the healthy snacking segment is now an intensely competitive and crowded. “Companies have to work even harder to create a product that brings a real point of difference for the consumer,” says Julian Mellentin, author of the report. Commenting for on what consumers are looking for when they ask for healthy potato snacks, Mellentin says: “Consumers are moving away from old definitions of healthy such as reduced fat and reduced salt – reduced salt is of interest only to a minority of people aged 65+. Potato snacks are primarily about indulgence and pleasure and bringing health benefits mustn’t lose sight of this fact.” The report outlines 10 strategies for success in healthy snacking, illustrated with 15 case studies of healthy snacking brands in the US and Europe. More on

Embracing technology key to Australian potato grower’s success

Image result for Scott Rockliff Australian potato growerScott Rockliff knows a thing or two about potato growing. For six generations, the Rockliff family has been growing potatoes along the north-west coast of Tasmania in Sassafras, a 200-year old town renowned for its food and wine production. A lot has changed since Scott Rockliff’s ancestors established the original farm in the 1800s. Nowadays, innovation is a must – understanding the latest in technology required for potato growing and thinking outside the square to produce a consistent crop is essential. Scott says the biggest issue potato growers have faced over the years is that the earnings from their product have stagnated. In an attempt to combat this challenge, Scott has embraced technology on his farm. He added that it was important to not only embrace tractors and ground working equipment but other larger inventions such as the Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application (RIPPA), which the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics developed for weed management in the vegetable industry. Experimenting with equipment and building on-farm machinery are activities that Scott enjoys. Read the full article on p20 of the latest Potatoes Australia magazine

Belaya Dacha Group and Lamb Weston / Meijer potato processing plant opened in Russia

Yesterday, a new potato processing plant was officially opened in Russia’s Lipetsk region, south of Moscow. This first Russian large-scale french fries production facility was built by a Joint Venture project of the Russian Belaya Dacha Group and Dutch based processor Lamb Weston / Meijer. The construction of the plant was subsidized by the Russian State Program for Agriculture Development. Local production of frozen french fries is said to be ensured and key customers can be supported in the rapidly growing Russian market. During the opening, the Minister highlighted the importance of this production facility, as it is another step towards meeting the Russian food demand through local production. The total investment amounted to 115 million Euros. By the end of 2019, the plant is expected to reach full capacity and process approximately 200 thousand tons of potatoes per year. More

Black dot a particular scourge of fresh market potato crops in GB this season

Black dot has been a particular scourge of fresh market crops this season, according AHDB Potatoes in the UK. Delayed harvesting has encouraged disease spread, increasing the crop’s exposure to infected soil and high levels of moisture. Here’s a reminder of why the problem has been so widespread. Black dot is a disease caused by Colletotrichum coccodes. There is evidence that microsclerotia (resting bodies) of the fungus can survive for many years in soil due, in part, to alternate hosts. It can infect weeds such as nettle, field bindweed and shepherd’s purse.  Survival is further enhanced by the presence of potato volunteers. Black dot can be both seed and soil-borne. Although seed-borne infection can cause disease in progeny tubers, soil inoculum poses a greater threat. Soil contamination is the main source of disease in a progeny crop. Disease risk should be based on evaluation of seed infection and, importantly, soil contamination for which a soil test is available. Black dot is commonly confused with silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani). More in the latest Storage Bulletin from AHDB

McDonald’s Russia turns to local fries from new processing plant, citing Western sanction woes

Related imageFrench fries at McDonald’s restaurants from Moscow to Murmansk will be Russian from now on, as the American fast-food chain turns to homegrown potatoes to deal with ruble volatility caused by fluctuating oil prices and Western sanctions. McDonald’s Corp, which opened in Russia in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed, has been gradually turning to local ingredients in its Russian outlets for everything from Big Macs to chicken burgers since it opened its doors there. But till now it had relied on frozen French fries from the Netherlands and Poland as Russian spuds weren’t quite right. Now a new plant near Lipetsk, a city 450 km (280 miles) south of Moscow, using potatoes grown on local farms will supply frozen fries to the chain of 651 outlets across Russia under a long-term contract, raising the share of the chain’s locally sourced products to 98 per cent. Globe and Mail report. Reuters report